Is DeSantis Losing? I Don't Think So

AP Photo/Morry Gash

Florida governor Ron DeSantis is winning the Republican primary. And, in my opinion, he will be the Republican nominee for President of the United States. Yes, you heard that right: DeSantis is winning. 


Despite the avalanche of flash polls suggesting otherwise, DeSantis is in strong shape. For those who don’t know, flash polls are quick, real-time surveys to gather instant opinions conducted primarily online or through mobile applications, and paid for by campaigns and major media outlets. And with the occasional exception, almost all of these polls are asking voters at the national level who they’re supporting, even though presidential primaries aren’t national elections — they’re conducted state by state. 

But we've all heard this already. I'm not breaking any news here about national flash polls not being the most accurate indication of where things really stand — especially well into the future. Moreover, flash polls can vary widely in terms of their accuracy. In general, reputable polls conducted by well-established polling organizations that use rigorous methodology have shown to be reasonably accurate. However, their accuracy is highly dependent on the proximity to the day voters cast their ballot. 

It’s worth remembering that flash polls conducted within less than 20 days of an election are far more accurate than flash polls conducted 130 days before an election, or caucus, as in the case of the Iowa Caucus. In a 22-minute interview yesterday with Dave Rubin, when asked about the polls, DeSantis makes a persuasive case that strategically, juicing national polls can be done, but his view is that focusing on a key primary state is a smarter strategy.


I recommend the full interview.

For example, according to FiveThirtyEight, a Public Opinion Strategies polling outfit, which asked Iowa voters on August 24 their choice for president in a head-to-head match-up between Trump and DeSantis, the former president received 43 percent to DeSantis’ 40 percent. When they included the rest of the GOP candidates, the former president’s lead grew to 20 percent, or 41 percent to 21 percent. 

How many national news stories have you watched lately that showed the Republican race in Iowa being only a 3 percent difference when matching up the two leading contenders? I haven’t, and I pay pretty close attention. 

Now, admittedly, there are some facts you would be wise to adjust for, including who the sponsor of a particular poll is. In this case, Public Opinion Strategies is the sponsor, and they do polls for a Super-PAC that supports Ron DeSantis for president. Other flash polls, such as Fabrizio, Lee & Associates, posted on X on an almost daily basis, work for the “Make America Great Again” PAC, and they support Trump. 

There are those out there who claim that a poll is inherently biased depending on who is paying for it. And it’s worth pointing out that polling isn’t cheap. So, to justify the expense, one might rightly assume they’re looking for a particular result. But all or most of the campaigns do them, although the better-financed campaigns can do more. Here is one posted today by the Haley campaign:


For example, on Tuesday of this week, The Wall Street Journal, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch, the media mogul who people claim has grown unfriendly to the former president, especially according to the former president, while at the same time being partial to DeSantis, released a national poll showing the former president with 59 percent to DeSantis’ 13 percent with the rest of the GOP candidates in single digits. The assumption being the poll must be accurate as it was conducted by the Wall Street Journal. However, there are two problems with that assumption. 

First, it wasn’t conducted by the WSJ, it was commissioned by the WSJ. The polling outfit used was Fabrizio, Lee & Associates, which supports the former president. 

Republican pollster Tony Fabrizio, who conducted the survey with Democratic pollster Michael Bocian, said it was shocking that a potential general election rematch between the last president and the current one is polling this closely, given Trump’s indictments.

The other problem with the WSJ poll is that it is a national poll, and, again, the GOP primary isn’t a national election; it’s a state-by-state election with the first few states taking on a disproportionate level of importance. 

But since this isn’t a political science lesson, I’ll leave it to you to figure out how or why it is important. Suffice it to say it has a lot to do with what George Herbert Walker Bush once called the “BIG MO.” In other words, winning an early primary state can do wonders for a campaign. 


The point is, while flash polls can be useful if your intention is to take a real-time picture of a moving river, this far out, they aren't very useful at all. For one thing, these polls have no ability to provide voters with the information they need to make an informed decision. For example, will their preferred candidate still be in the race in 130 days? 

After the GOP Debate on Fox News a couple of weeks ago, one of the declared candidates left the race. I’m, of course, referring to Miami Mayor Frances Suarez. Many political observers expect more candidates to exit the race after the GOP Debate on September 27 at the Reagan Library. 

But none of this is why I’ve come to the rather bold and audacious opinion that Ron DeSantis will win the Republican nomination. One factor in my analysis and opinion is based on what pollsters call the “cross tabs.” Cross tabs, short for cross-tabulations, are a way to analyze the relationship between two or more variables in an opinion poll. 

For example, in a political opinion poll, cross tabs could be used to analyze the relationship between different voting intentions. This is really important when asking voters about their second choice. And then analyzing the information to arrive at various assumptions based on factors that are often simply unknowable. 

But here is perhaps where I risk being accused of romanticizing my assessment of the Republican race. And that has to do with how I assess the candidates who are actually putting in the work versus those who are sort of faxing it in. To use an old metaphor that won’t resonate with anyone under 40. 


Without intending to criticize or belittle the other candidates' efforts, in my view, only one candidate in this race is putting in the amount of time and effort that Ron DeSantis is putting in. To put it simply, DeSantis is suiting up and showing up daily when and where it really counts. This has always been true in Florida, too. His work ethic is something of legend:

And that incredible work ethic has also extended to his campaign in Iowa. DeSantis is the only candidate who has made the commitment to visit all 99 counties in Iowa. This is no small undertaking and reveals a fire in the belly that in politics, you can't always put an exact price on nor accurately capture in a flash poll.

One might conclude after studying the race for the GOP nomination especially but not limited to DeSantis' main rival, as one closely resembling the classic fable "The Tortoise and the Hare," where a fast and arrogant hare challenges a slow and determined tortoise to a race. The hare, confident in its speed, quickly dashes ahead but becomes overconfident, decides to take a nap, and underestimates the tortoise. 

Meanwhile, the tortoise steadily plods along without giving up. When the hare awakens and realizes the tortoise is approaching the finish line, it desperately tries to catch up but fails. 


The moral of the story is that consistency and perseverance can triumph over arrogance and haste. In case you are wondering, Ron DeSantis is the tortoise in this analogy, and I'll leave it to you to decide who is the hare. You might be surprised that there appears to be more than one hare in the Republican race. 

Bottom line, I want to live in a world, including a political world, where consistency and perseverance triumph over arrogance and haste. I think it would be a valuable lesson for our kids and grandkids at a time when so much cynicism exists, especially relating to our politics.


Join the conversation as a VIP Member

Trending on RedState Videos